Keysource is appointed on to a new data centre framework

Adding infrastructure and equipment to its consultancy offering.

Keysource, the critical engineering specialists, can now provide all aspects of data centre design and delivery through the new North Eastern Universities Purchasing Consortium Ltd (NEUPC) Data Centre Management Framework. This builds on the previous NEUPC framework, where Keysource was able to provide data centre consultancy services.

NEUPC is one of six UK Higher Education purchasing consortia established to deliver and manage a wide range of collaborative framework agreements within the higher education sector. NEUPC’s new Data Centre Management Framework offers a broad scope of equipment, infrastructure and consultancy. The framework was designed by IT and Telecoms procurement experts from Higher Education institutions to speed up the process of data centre procurement for members and provide a supplier benchmark for services. This two-year agreement went live on the 29th September 2015.

Rob Elder, Director at Keysource said,

We have a long pedigree of providing high performance data centre facilities to the education sector. We’re excited that we can now offer our NEUPC framework customers all of our expertise from consultancy right through to delivery and ongoing management through this framework. As a truly independent organisation, Keysource takes pride in providing customers with world class data centre facilities while keeping within the constraints of tight budgets.

Since its appointment five years ago, Keysource has provided consultancy services under the previous NEUPC data centre framework for prestigious customers such as Teesside University and The National Archives.

Keysource gets the green light for Teesside University Data Centre

Keysource, the data centre design specialist, has completed its role to deliver principal design consultancy to Teesside University for its challenging new data centre upgrade project.

Keysource’s design on this complex project, which recently received planning permission, will see the University’s data centre benefit from a new critical power generator. This will ensure it has an uninterruptable power supply as well as a highly resilient modular UPS which can be expanded in response to changing requirements. It also utilises an innovative fresh-air cooling system that will make full use of the low-ambient temperatures around the data centre.

The full scope of Keysource’s consultancy contract was to conduct an initial feasibility study identifying any issues and risks, and address them. Designs were then developed for critical power and air quality. Keysource also assisted with the planning submission and took responsibility for the procurement of contractors and suppliers, taking the role of CDM principal designer.

There were several major risks that needed to be ironed out in the design process due to the data centre’s location. The University is flanked by an estuary and in close proximity to the sea. This means that the atmosphere around the data centre could be potentially challenging for both the IT and M&E infrastructure, with corrosion being a risk needing to be factored into the design. In addition, as the data centre is in the heart of Middlesbrough where the surrounding area is host to a large number of industries, there is the usual threat from external contaminants.

Keysource had to take into account noise control and all modifications also had to meet strict planning requirements.

Andrew Maclaren, Assistant Director (Estates Services & Energy Procurement) at Teesside University said,

“We chose Keysource through the North East Universities Purchasing Consortium (NEUPC) framework. We wanted totally independent data centre design specialists with experience in both fresh air cooling as well as working within the education sector. Keysource has professionally met every requirement and we’re really pleased with their designs and guidance on sourcing the best solutions for our needs.”

Andy Hayes, Director at Keysource added,

“We have a number of Higher Education providers within our portfolio and are well versed in the challenges the sector faces particularly around the need for flexibility and the budgetary constraints. We were able to complete this project on time and on budget and our innovative design will ensure the data centre meets Teesside University’s IT requirements for many years to come.”

To PUE or not to PUE (That is the Question!) What is it and why is it useful?

For a few years now the data centre industry has been moving towards a standard measure of effectiveness for the use of power within data centres.  Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE), whilst not yet a globally agreed measure is fast becoming the standard and formalising the calculation is well underway. But what is it and why should you bother?

PUE allows organisations and enterprises to gather data, measure and report the effectiveness of their data centre, or indeed data room, in terms of power use.

In simple terms, PUE is,

Total Energy Used in the Facility
Energy Used by the IT Equipment

For smaller organisations or facilities that are located within a larger mixed-use space, Partial PUE (pPUE) can be used. This allows the data centre manager to measure PUE within a set boundary such as a room or building, or an area such as the equipment owned by certain customers or departments.  For example, you may want to measure the pPUE of individual data halls, rather than the facility as a whole.

The difficulty for many businesses is the availability of the data and information required. Whilst assumptions can be made and data captured at different points it does mean that comparing PUE or pPUE across market sectors is difficult. However the real value of PUE isn’t the creation of a global league table and winners awards, but more importantly PUE gives anyone with one or more data centres or data rooms the ability to measure and compare the effective use of power over time and across the business. (There are a wide range of intelligent monitoring solutions available for data centres, you can see some of the ones we offer by clicking on the link and keep an eye out for our upcoming blog post on the “5 things you need to know about DCIM”)

PUE gives everyone the ability to measure and improve the use of power in their data centres.

So what should be included in each group for the calculation?
Total Energy Used by the Facility

Plus the IT equipment listed below

Energy Used by the IT Equipment

Whilst the Total Energy Used by the Facility can often be gathered at source from the utility meter supplying the facility, or a meter just prior to the data room (for pPUE), the data collected regarding the Energy Used by the IT Equipment will be more accurate the closer the source of the information is to the individual units that consume the power. For example, gathering power usage from the installed UPS units is not as accurate as the information available from the subsequent Power Distribution Units (PDUs), which in turn is not as accurate as the data gathered from individual meters immediately prior to the IT Equipment.

PUE and pPUE account for this within the standard definition by allowing 3 variations, PUE1, 2 and 3, with PUE3 being the most accurate. There is also three different reporting frequencies; Yearly (Y), Monthly (M) or Weekly (W) with each denoting what period the data has been averaged over. On top of this you then have the data collection frequency; Monthly, Weekly, Daily or Continuously. So a PUEL3YC (which is the standard measurement we use at Keysource) would be a measurement from PDU level on a continuous basis. 

World Class PUE

Given the lack of consistency in measurements and environments it is not valid to quote a ‘world class PUE’, however it is generally accepted that a PUE of 2 or less is considered good and less than 1.4 is considered very good. A PUE of 1 means that 100% of the energy is used by the IT Equipment and therefore the physical data centre is 100% efficient, a PUE of 2 or less would mean that 50% or more of the power used by the data centre is used by the IT Equipment and so on.

There are so many factors that effect the efficiency of data centres that “snap shot” PUE figures can be misleading.  For example:

Because of this, continuous reporting and monitoring is the recommended way of tracking PUE, by not only Keysource but also The Green Grid; who developed the metric in the first place.

As touched upon it is also important to take into account the different environmental conditions of different regions. As such, PUE levels cannot be compared across regions because a higher PUE in one region might be relatively better than a PUE in another region but we will look at this in more detail in another post.

Remember, the key is consistency, define your measure, data sources and frequencies and stick with them. 

Design PUE or the PUE of new facilities

When a customer wanting a new facility designed and/or built approaches Keysource, they often have an idea of the PUE they want to achieve and a design is developed to meet this business need whilst also meeting the technical requirements.  However as this is a theoretical figure (admittedly based on some very complex mathematics!), how can you, as the customer, be sure that this is what you will be able to achieve and what if anything should you be aware of?  Find out more in our next blog looking at PUE.

Principal Designers and Contractors for Business Critical Environments – The importance of getting it right

We’ve recently been looking at the changes to Construction (Design & Management) Regulations (CDM) and what’s needed to comply with the legislation and how they will affect our customers.

The first thing to note is that the changes place more responsibilities on the client with an obligation to ensure that H&S is managed effectively throughout the duration of the project and non-compliance which leads to serious incidents, now has the potential for unlimited financial penalties to be imposed.

Briefly the main changes are:

What you need to do to ensure compliance

In our previous post we looked at the 6 things you need to do to ensure you comply with CDM, with two of the compulsory tasks being appointing a Principal Designer and a Principal Contractor.  We live and breathe data centres and business critical environments so we understand the importance of making sure you have the correct suppliers and contractor working within this environment.

This blog looks at the roles of the Principal Designer and the Principal Contractor and delves more deeply into what skills are required for working within business critical environments and suggests questions you should ask your chosen designer & contractor before you appoint them!

First off, the Principal Designer…

CDM Principal Designer for Critical Environments

What is a CDM Principal Designer?

A CDM Principal Designer can be an organisation or individual depending on the size of the project and head up the project design process. They are appointed by the customer to manage the whole pre-construction phase of any project that involves two or more contractors. Indeed, principal designers are responsible for managing all elements of health and safety risks that are presented at the preconstruction phase of the project.

In more detail, principal designers are required to work with the customer to plan, manage, monitor and coordinate health and safety taking into consideration all existing information that might affect design work carried out both before and after the construction phase has started.

On larger projects, where there is more than one designer, the principal designer is required to work with all of the designers and share all relevant information to ensure that any potential risks are mitigated.  This means that the principal designer assumes the role of coordinating clear communications across the design teams. Furthermore the principal designer has a duty to keep the contractor informed of any risks that need to be managed at the construction phase.

Whether working in a live upgrade or on new build projects, it is important to make sure you are working with a designer that really understands the environment, the potential risks and hazards, and more importantly how to mitigate them. The best place to start is by selecting a couple of companies and looking through their case studies and previous work (you can find ours here).  From this, you can really see what experience they have and the type of projects they have worked on.  You can also see their awards or any accreditations they have achieved which gives un-biased third party validation and assurance of their expertise. You should also be looking for suitable CDM and Lead Auditor qualifications. Armed with this knowledge you should then call and speak to the person that heads up their Health and Safety team, in our case Justin Busk; Head of Safety, Health and Environment (you can use our example questions below as a guide!) which will help give you a feel for their understanding and capabilities.

You may be tempted to use a supplier you have used previously but they may not have the level of expertise required or the experience, and for what is essentially 30 minutes on Google (or the search engine of your choice!) it could save you years’ worth of trouble with projects that weren’t properly assessed, the risks were not correctly controlled, or even resulted in injury to people or damage to property.

Questions to ask a potential Principal Designer

  1. How do they demonstrate the technical knowledge of the construction industry relevant to the project?
  2. How do they identify, eliminate or control foreseeable risks?
  3. How can they demonstrate organisational capability?
  4. How do they effectively manage their duties under CDM?

CDM Principal Contractor for Critical Environments

What is a CDM Principal Contractor?

For projects with more than one contractor, a principal contractor must be appointed by the client. The principal contractor needs to have the expertise to manage all health and safety risks throughout the construction phase as they assume responsibility for planning, monitoring and co-ordinating the project during construction, and in particular this includes managing any health and safety risks to workers on the project and the general public.

The specific requirements of a principal contractor include:

Once you have appointed your Principal Designer you then need to consider your Principal Contractor, this can be from the same organisation and makes sense, especially if the organization is providing both services. But again we would only recommend this if they have the correct technical knowledge and experience, and can demonstrate the organisational capability to carry out the role.

Questions to ask a potential Principal Contractor

  1. What experience do they have as a principal contractor?
  2. How do they identify, eliminate or control hazards and risks?
  3. How do they effectively manage their duties under CDM?
  4. How do they ensure effective co-ordination with designers?

If you have any questions about this article, would like to know more or would like to talk to us about CDM 2015 services call us on +44 (0) 345 204 3333 or download our brochure here.

RoSPA Explained – Q&A with our Head of SHE

Keysource recently claimed a Silver RoSPA Occupational Health and Safety Award for the second year in succession. We caught up with Justin Busk, the company’s Head of Safety, Health & Environment.

Hi Justin, so who are RoSPA?

RoSPA stands for The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents. The organisation has a long-standing objective to reduce injuries and ultimately save lives. Each year, around 2.7 million people go to A&E for treatment and RoSPA provides a number of resources to inform, educate and help to prevent accidents in the home and its surrounding area.

Can you tell us a little about the RoSPA Awards?

The RoSPA Occupational Health and Safety Awards are internationally recognised and provide businesses of all sizes the opportunity to showcase their health and safety initiatives. The Awards have been in operation for 59 years now and over that time the scheme has encouraged a commitment to raising health and safety standards across every industry.

How did Keysource get on at the 2015 RoSPA Awards?

Keysource received a silver award after being applauded for high health and safety standards during the past year. In fact, this is the second year in a row we have been granted this award, which is a testimony to the hard work and dedication of the Keysource Board and wider team.

So it must have been very busy twelve months for you?

Absolutely. It has been a hugely successful year for Keysource, including the launch of our own pro-active safety culture, ‘Safety First, Always’. Our number one priority is to ensure the safety, health and welfare of all our employees and all other persons who may be affected by our activities. This commitment extends to the trade contractors we employ, stakeholders that we work with, visitors to our projects and members of the public.

The initiative encourages our people to lead by example, embracing and championing our safety culture. All are encouraged to intervene on unsafe behaviour, acts or conditions and put safety first, always. All staff must ensure that suitable and sufficient risk assessments are at the core of our activities.

Is the business using its expertise in this area to help its customers and other organisations?

Indeed it is. We have launched a number of exciting SHE & Compliance Services to help companies protect and enhance their people, assets, critical environments and reputations. These include consultancy, compliance and auditing, management systems, and training and development. These professional services are all underpinned by key International and British standards, accreditations and approved memberships in the field.

Finally, tell us a little about yourself.

I’m a Chartered Health & Safety professional with more than twelve years of experience working with various blue chip clients in both the public and private sectors. My key specialisms include occupational safety, health & environmental management, specialising in construction design. I joined the Keysource senior management team back in 2013 to help support the continued growth of the business.

You can find out more about our SHE & Compliance Services or call us on +44 (0)345 204 3333.

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